The NFL playoff picture is complete in the AFC with only one week of the regular-season yet to play. All six teams are set, and none can even do as much as improve or harm their seeding in Week 17.

One of these six teams are guaranteed to represent the conference in February’s Super Bowl, but some appear to have better chances of getting there than others. Here are pros and cons — arguments for and against — for why each of these six teams has championship potential.

1. New England Patriots (13-2)

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 24:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws during the first quarter of a game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
FOXBORO, MA – DECEMBER 24: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots throws during the first quarter of a game against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

Pros

There is no quarterback-head coach tandem currently in the NFL with more playoff and more Super Bowl experience than the New England Patriots’ duo of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, which already gives the AFC’s No. 1 seed an incredible advantage in this year’s playoffs, no matter where the games take place.

But as the No. 1 seed, the AFC path to the Super Bowl seems almost guaranteed to roll through Foxboro, a place where the Patriots have lost in the postseason literally just a handful of times in 33 playoff appearances with Belichick and Brady. And with a 13-2 record, the best in the conference and at 10-1 in AFC intra-conference play, this is a juggernaut no one likely wants to see in January.

The Patriots are also playing high-level, well-rounded football — traits that often define Super Bowl champions. Brady has thrown only two interceptions in 399 pass attempts (to 25 touchdowns). Meanwhile, the Patriots also have a top-10 run game behind back LeGarrette Blount, who already has 1,110 rushing yards and 17 rushing scores with one regular-season game to play.

Not to be outdone by their humming offense, the Patriots’ defense is currently ranking first in points allowed and eighth in yards. Their six run scores allowed are the fewest in the league, while the pass defense has given up only seven touchdowns, while notching 12 interceptions and 34 sacks.

Ultimately, the on-paper numbers seem to point to the Patriots being the AFC’s truly unstoppable squad.

FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 9: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his morning press availability at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Nov. 09, 2016. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA – NOVEMBER 9: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his morning press availability at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Nov. 09, 2016. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Cons

There aren’t many drawbacks to the Patriots’ performances this year. In fact, the very obviousness of the Patriots’ chances to win it all, yet again, might be the only argument against them, and it’s a very metaphysical one at that.

Rust, due to a bye week? That didn’t seem to affect Brady at all following his four-week suspension that opened the season. The intimidation factor? The Patriots have played three of the other five playoff teams already this year, winning all three. At this point, only the “any given Sunday” nature of the sport could be the only true argument against the Patriots’ odds.

2. Oakland Raiders (12-3)

Pros

This has been a magical season for the Oakland Raiders, who are back atop the AFC West and are making their first playoff appearance since 2002. They have a bye week to rest up for whoever their Divisional Round opponent may be, their offense ranks in the top 10 in every major statistical category and the defense has totaled 25 sacks so far, with 18 of those via the combined efforts of defensive end Khalil Mack and linebacker Bruce Irvin. But there’s now a major roadblock to the Raiders’ Cinderella Season, and it’s the biggest argument against this team reaching the Super Bowl in Houston.

Cons

Through 15 games, third-year quarterback Derek Carr has been excellent. He’s completed 63.7 percent of his passes, for 3,933 yards and has thrown 28 touchdowns to six interceptions. Behind a criminally underrated offensive line, he’s been sacked only 16 times. The problem? Carr’s season may already be over, having suffered a broken fibula in Week 16’s win over the Indianapolis Colts, the only time he was touched in the game.

The good news for backup Matt McGloin, to whom this offense belongs for at least the time being, is that he will be protected by that very same line. The bad news, though, is that he had only four pass attempts after Carr went out with injury and since 2013, he has appeared in only 13 games with six starts (and a 1-5 record in those matchups).

McGloin also has the benefit of a bye week to help get him on the same page as star Raiders receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. But there’s no question that McGloin is a significant step down from Carr, a fact that hurts Oakland’s offense. And when the offense is hurting, that puts extra pressure on the defense.

While Mack and Irvin have been stellar this season, the secondary has struggled. Oakland’s defense has allowed a 25th-ranked 3,914 passing yards and a 21st-ranked 25 passing touchdowns. Without Carr’s leadership keeping Oakland afloat, it’s hard to see this defense shutting down the likes of New England’s or Pittsburgh’s offense in order to steer them toward the wins necessary to get to the Super Bowl. But then again: Carr’s six-to-eight week timetable for recovery puts him in position to make a return if Oakland can make it that far. His family certainly thinks such a thing is possible.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-5)

Pros

The Pittsburgh Steelers clinched the AFC North in a thrilling, last-second defeat of longstanding rivals, the Baltimore Ravens, in Week 16. That ability to finish when the pressure is high is but one reason why the Steelers are among the most intimidating of the AFC’s playoff picture.

The other, of course, is the offense. Led by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell, the unit ranks 12th in points, seventh in yards and only ninth in turnovers. Though Bell missed the first three games of the season, he already has 1,884 yards from scrimmage (1,268 rushing, on 261 attempts and 616 receiving, on 75 catches). Brown is up to 1,284 yards and 12 scores (including the game-winner over Balitmore) — otherwise known as 12 of Roethlisberger’s 29 passing touchdowns this year.

Further, there may be no team less overwhelmed by the pressures of the postseason outside of the Patriots. Roethlisberger has been to the playoffs eight times, including three Super Bowls (and two wins), while head coach Mike Tomlin has been at the helm of postseason squads six times.

The defense, not to be outdone by the offense, has continued to improve as the year has progressed, mostly because its younger players are becoming more comfortable on the field. It continues to generate turnovers every week, has 34 sacks on the year and is top-10 in points and yards allowed, as well as rushing yards and passing touchdowns. The Steelers also start out their playoff stand at home in Heinz Field this year, a place where they have lost only twice in 2016.

About Andrea Hangst

Andrea Hangst is The Comeback's NFL salary cap and contract guru. She also covers the NFL for Bleacher Report, Sports on Earth and Scout.com's Orange and Brown Report. She is the host of the weekly F*BALL NFL Podcast, which can be found via iTunes or Stitcher and she is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.